The annual Arab American Festival brought thousands of people to Garden Grove’s Village Green Park last weekend, and along with the crowds came two groups of protesters.
The festival, which celebrates the wide variety of Arab nations, is held each year on Friday through Sunday. This time, controversy came along with the food, carnival rides and sideshow games.
One group of Syrians showed up to protest, alleging that the festival sponsors support the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. That country has been under “emergency law” since 1962. Widespread protests and bloodshed have shaken Syria this year.
Also protesting was a group from the Westboro Baptist Church headquartered in Topeka, Kansas. Demonstrators held signs that insulted Mohammed, the prophet of the Islamic faith. Most Arabs are Islamic.
The Westboro church is best-known for protesting the funerals of American war dead., claiming that the killing of U.S. troops is supported by God because America “supports homosexuality.”
Exchanges between the various groups got loud at time, but remained peaceful. According to Lt. Jeff Nightengale, spokesman for the Garden Grove Police Department no arrests were made at the festival and no additional law enforcement personnel had to be summoned to handle the protests.